Rave Fringe reviews for Southland play

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2012
Lizzie Dawson
'SPECTACULAR': Lizzie Dawson and a blindfolded Jade Gillies promote their play, A Cry Too far From Heaven, on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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Three Invercargill thespians have received rave reviews for their performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from their toughest critics - family members of the play's real-life characters.

Written and performed by Angela Newell, Jade Gillies and Lizzie Dawson, A Cry Too far From Heaven had an eight-performance run at the famous festival.

The play examined capital punishment through the eyes of two Southlanders - Victor Spencer, a young World War I deserter from Bluff, and Minnie Dean, the infamous Winton "baby farmer" who was hanged for infanticide.

The play had a great season, Newell said from Edinburgh after the final performance.

"The audiences shared lots of positive comments," she said.

"Minnie Dean's great-grand-nephew, his wife and sister-in-law attended the play and were very touched and moved by the play."

The actors were thanked for presenting the Minnie Dean story in an open way, that acknowledged that there were possibly unfair aspects to her situation, Newell said.

Apart from impressing family members, the Southland-inspired play drew acclaim from critics.

Malcolm Jack, from the Scotsman newspaper, said "the play shone a spotlight on the stories of the condemned in a plain and balanced manner and left the audience to ponder their significance."

"It was well written and confidently acted and proved to be a thought-provoking 50 minutes," he said.

A review in Three Weeks Edinburgh said "all three actors delivered spectacular performances conveying the pain and confusion of awaiting execution".

"The play provided a provocative look at the death penalty," the review said.

The Fringe Festival had been a fantastic experience for all three actors, Newell said.

"We've all had a great time seeing shows, in-between handing out flyers on the streets and doing the show," she said.

The actors' and play's journey would continue for the Southland trio, with a trip planned to visit Victor Spencer's grave in Ypres, Belgium, Newell said.

"We will lay a poppy on his grave."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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